The Office of International Students & Scholars is thrilled to be partnering with IRIS – Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, for a discussion on Welcome to the New World, a graphic novel featured in The New York Times that came out of a collaboration between writer Jake Halpern, illustrator Michael Sloan, and two refugee families who resettled to Connecticut through IRIS. Now in a full-length book, the story follows the lives of two refugee families who fled the civil war in Syria to make a new life in America.
The book discussion will be led by IRIS Executive Director Chris George and he will be speaking with Naji Aldabaan, whose story is featured in Welcome to the New World.
We encourage attendees to read Welcome to the New World before attending the discussion, but it is not a requirement to attend.
If you’d like to purchase the book from a local book store, head to People Get Ready! For every book of Welcome to the New World you purchase, they will donate $1 back to IRIS.
This is a free Zoom event, but registration is required.
Chris George has been the Executive Director of IRIS, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, Connecticut’s largest refugee resettlement agency for the past 15 years. Based in New Haven but working with community groups all over the state, IRIS has welcomed more than 1,300 refugees to Connecticut in just the last three years. Chris has spent most of his professional life living in, or working on, the Middle East. He spent a total of 12 years in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Chris was Executive Director of Human Rights Watch – Middle East for two years. He worked nine years with Save the Children (mostly in the Middle East) and three years with American Friends Service Committee. Chris began his international career in 1977 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Muscat, Oman. He speaks Arabic.
Naji Aldabaan is a senior at Hall High School who came to the U.S. with his family as a Syrian refugee. He does speaking engagements throughout Connecticut, with faith congregations, schools, and other communities. He is Vice President of Adeebah’s Authentic Middle Eastern Cuisine, a West Hartford based catering company. He served as a group project leader in the Hall High entrepreneurship class and as a tutor for younger students. He was recently awarded a scholarship to UCONN. He plans to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant. He’s bilingual in Arabic and English.